Peoria woman suspected of killing male cousin in bloody, drunken brawl

May 6, 2022, 11:15 AM
Brianna Zerth (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)...
Brianna Zerth (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

PHOENIX – A woman was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of killing her cousin during a bloody, drunken brawl at her Peoria home the night before, authorities said.

Brianna Zerth, 29, was booked on one count each of second-degree murder, aggravated assault causing serious injury, aggravated assault with a dangerous instrument and tampering with evidence.

The suspect’s 6-year-old daughter was at the house near 111th and Olive avenues when the fight occurred and was still there with her mother and the deceased man when police responded to calls about the incident about 12 hours later, according to court documents.

The 33-year-old victim had wounds on his back and neck that appeared to be inflicted by a hammer claw, and there was a hammer in the bedroom near his body, according to the probable cause statement filed by police.

Police said they also found several knives at the scene that appeared to have blood stains.

A witness and Zerth called police to report the incident in separate calls around noon Wednesday. Police said that Zerth showed the witness the bloody scene in a video call, prompting the witness to call 911.

When Zerth called police, she said her cousin wasn’t breathing and was cold to the touch. She didn’t mention the blood until the dispatcher asked her about it.

After being advised of her Miranda rights, Zerth told investigators she and the victim had been drinking the previous night before getting into a physical altercation. When asked for details about how he was injured, Zerth said her recollection was “black” and “blurry,” according to police.

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Peoria woman suspected of killing male cousin in bloody, drunken brawl